Tag Archives: Republican

US Presidential Election Roundup: 05/8 – 11/8

This week’s roundup of the US presidential elections…

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Romney attacks Obama over military voting [The Hill] Mitt Romney has criticised the Obama campaign for attempting to prevent a law that would extend the early voting period for military personnel.

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Obama policies under fire [Huffington Post] Mitt Romney has accused President Obama of ‘an extraordinary series of policy failures’ in the wake of a recent report on jobs.

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‘Apologies are in the air’ [Washington Post] The Washington Post rounds up a series of apologies from both the Obama and the Romney campaigns from the past two weeks.

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Romney supports Senate contender [CNN] Mitt Romney has campaigned in Indiana alongside Republican candidate for Senate Richard Mourdock.

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Obama ad attacks Romney on Planned Parenthood [Political Wire] A new campaign ad has criticised Mitt Romney’s stance on contraception and Planned Parenthood funding.

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Wealthy will ‘do just fine’ says Romney [CBS] Mitt Romney has said that the wealthiest Americans will ‘do just fine’ regardless of the outcome of the presidential election.

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Reid branded ‘liar’ by Republicans [The Guardian] The majority leader of the Senate Harry Reid has been accused of lying after claiming that Romney paid no taxes for ten years.

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Republican convention speakers announced [Huffington Post] The Republican National Committee has confirmed that Senator John McCain and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will be among the speakers at the Republican National Convention.

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July sees Romney raise over $100 million [ABC] The Romney campaign raised $101 million in July, it was announced this week.

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Obama predicted to exceed fundraising record [Politico] Although behind his Republican opponent, President Obama is expected to surpass the $750 million raised by his first election campaign.

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Jewish organisation demands Romney apology [The Hill] Jewish Voice for Peace has called on Mitt Romney to apologise to the Palestinians after comments made by the Republican frontrunner in Jerusalem last week.

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More convention speakers revealed [Huffington Post] Rick Santorum and Ron Paul will be among those joining John McCain and Condoleezza Rice as speakers at the Republican National Convention.

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Romney challenges Reid over tax accusation [Fox News] Mitt Romney has requested that Senate leader Harry Reid reveals the source behind his claims about the Republican contender’s tax affairs.

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‘Obamaloney’ [CNN] President Obama’s criticism of Mitt Romney’s tax policies as being ‘Robin Hood in reverse’ has been described as ‘Obamaloney’ by the Republican presidential hopeful.

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Republicans label Obama ad ‘dishonest’ [Telegraph] Republicans have criticised a campaign ad from the Priorities USA Action Super PAC for suggesting that Mitt Romney and Bain Capital may have been responsible for the death of a former employee.

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Obama maintains Colorado lead [Politico] A new poll has found that President Obama’s lead over Mitt Romney in the battleground state of Colorado has remained at around 49% to 43%.

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Obama appeals to women in Colorado [Politico] President Obama has spoken about the benefits of his healthcare reforms for women during a campaign trip to Colorado.

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Spokesperson promotes Romney health law [CNN] The Romney campaign has spoken about the successes of the Massachusetts healthcare law passed by the Republican contender.

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Obama waging ‘war on religion’ says Romney ad [CBS] A new campaign ad from the Romney campaign has accused President Obama of threatening religious freedom.

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Polls show Obama lead [Political Wire] A poll for CNN shows that President Obama is seven points ahead of his Republican rival, while a Fox News poll gives Obama a nine point lead.

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Democratic National Convention to feature Republicans [Politico] Planning papers for the Democratic National Convention have revealed that the event will feature Republican speakers.

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Romney leading in Iowa poll [Politico] A Rasmussen poll gives Romney a two point lead over President Obama.

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Paul Ryan to be named VP [Reuters] Congressman Paul Ryan is expected to be announced as Mitt Romney’s running mate.

Compiled by Patrick McGhee.

Romneycare: Repeal & Replicate

Whilst the Republican’s 33rd health care repeal attempt may remind us of their relentless determination to be rid of Obamacare, their entire effort bares of nothing more than petty partisan politics.

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[dropcap]T[/dropcap]wo days ago, July 11 2012, was the 33rd time the Republican controlled House voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

My arrival to Washington DC coincided with the day Obamacare was historically upheld as constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court; a great day for many, one of great dismay for others – Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner was left particularly embarrassed having sent around a memo urging his members not to gloat upon it being struck down. It was certainly a successful day of non-gloating for the Republicans.

The awesome hypocrisy of the right-wing’s incessant opposition, is that the Affordable Care Act was originally a Republican ideology. Not only was it similarly entitled, ‘An Act Providing Access to Affordable, Quality, Accountable Health Care’ but it was none other than Mitt Romney himself as the governor of Massachusetts, who initially endorsed this healthcare mandate.

Six years later Mittromney.com boldly describes the health care act as a ‘government takeover’ – something largely ironic considering the government will not have control over insurance rates. This is due to the fact private insurance companies will uphold independent control, so although making health insurance a compulsory purchase will essentially subsidise the extortionate rates, ultimately the private nature of the insurance companies means the government has limited interference. Laying health insurance in the hands of private companies has Republican shaped ideology written across its elephant’s forehead – you would think. But no, the Republicans of today seem to be ever more misguided by a Sat Nav that only mandates right-turns; subsequently leading them to view their previous right wing ideas as socialist, of all things.

The most amusing stint nonetheless, occurred when Romney responded to the success of Obamacare with his ‘Repeal and Replace’ speech which portrayed a frighteningly familiar vision for the future of American healthcare. In an almost deja vu mannerism, he declared the so called replacement policies to be “making sure that people who want to keep their current insurance can do so” and “assuring that every American has access to affordable health care”. Perhaps the best way of learning more about these “replacement” policies would be to read through Obamacare.

So whilst the Republican’s 33rd health care repeal attempt may remind us of their relentless determination to be rid of Obamacare, their entire effort bares of nothing more than petty partisan politics, particularly considering Mitt seemingly plans to replicate rather than replace what is already in motion.

Romney & Iran: Continuity Or Change?

Symmetry exists between Romney and Obama on the issue of military involvement: both are committed potential military solutions within the Islamic Republic.

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In the Washington Post earlier this month, former Democratic presidential candidate John Kerryweighed in on the Republican nomination race, responding to a foreign policy piece written by Mitt Romney a few days earlier. Kerry described Romney’s policy on Iran as both ‘inaccurate’ and ‘aggressive’, and accused him of imagining problems with the President Obama’s current policy that do not really exist in order to generate support from the Republican base.

Romney’s campaign trail rhetoric thus far confirms that he is making every effort to appeal to core Republican voters by distancing himself from the current President. The enthusiasm he expressed last year for an ‘American Century’, combined with his readiness to accuse Obama of ‘apologising for America’, suggests a considerable renascence of exceptionalist Republicanism. Indeed, in the article to which Kerry was responding, Romney compared himself to former Republican President Ronald Reagan, promising to revive a Cold War-style foreign policy of ‘peace through strength’.

More interestingly, the article reiterates a number of Romney’s core policy aims surrounding Iran. Romney says that he ‘will press for ever-tightening sanctions’ against Iran, supporting the statement on his website that he will implement ‘a fifth round of sanctions targeted at the financial resources that underpin the Iranian regime.’ As Kerry points out, this declaration seems to brush aside the previous four rounds of sanctions, which have restricted Iran’s finances and nuclear programme, banned its arms exports, implemented cargo inspections and prevented the country from buying heavy weaponry and military vehicles. All this, in addition to the European Union’s oil embargo on Iran announced in January this year, suggests that Romney’s sanction pledge represents an intensification of current US policy, rather than the kind of change Romney claims to want. Romney’s website goes so far as to praise the current President ‘for pushing for a fourth round of international sanctions on Iran early in his term’ despite the Republican frontrunner himself commenting early in March this year that Obama ‘has failed to put into place crippling sanctions against Iran.’ These conflicting statements suggest that Romney’s policies on Iran depend greatly on which crowd he is speaking to.

There are areas in which Romney is more consistent with his criticism of Obama’s policy, however. In a debate last year, Romney said that the President’s ‘greatest failing from a foreign policy stand point’ has been his failure to persuade Iran to drop its nuclear ambitions, adding: ‘If we re-elect Barack Obama, Iran will have a nuclear weapon. And if you elect Mitt Romney, Iran will not have a nuclear weapon.’ More specifically, Romney’s website says that Obama should have supported popular opposition within Iran in 2009, labelling his restraint as ‘a disgraceful abdication of American moral authority.’ The current President has remained reluctant over the issue of internal opposition to the regime in Iran, responding to renewed protest in early 2011 by saying: ‘Each country is different, each country has its own traditions, and America can’t dictate what happens in these societies.’ However, commentators, including as the Washington Post’s Scott Wilson, have suggested that this reluctance underpins Obama’s argument that the legitimacy of regime change relies on the independent, internal desire for change, rather than the external influences of the United States.

Romney has also accused Obama of failing ‘to communicate that military options are on the table,’ explaining in his Washington Post article that he ‘will buttress my diplomacy with a military option that will persuade the ayatollahs to abandon their nuclear ambitions.’ However, in a recent interview for the Atlantic magazine, President Obama said that US policy in Iran includes political, economic and diplomatic elements, but also ‘a military component’, adding that ‘as President of the United States, I don’t bluff.’ These examples demonstrate a considerable degree of symmetry between Romney and Obama on the issue of military involvement, with both individuals committed to diplomatic and potential military solutions to the problems of Iran.

Given his commitment to sanctions and his fusion of diplomacy with military action, it appears that Mitt Romney is by no means advocating a shift away from the current administration’s policy, no matter how much distance he attempts to put between himself and the President.

Romney’s Bogus Claims About Obama’s Foreign Policy

Romney’s attacks on Obama have been disingenuous and are unlikely to have much sway over independent voters.

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Mitt Romney’s biggest critique of Barack Obama has been that the President has been apologizing for America since he took office. Romney is so enamored with the idea that he even titled his book No Apology. But is the charge actually true?

Numerous fact-checkers have looked at the charge and found it wanting. If you look at the specific examples that conservatives cite, such as this list from the conservative Human Events, it would be a stretch to call them apologies. The word ‘sorry’ doesn’t appear anywhere, which is clearly a crucial component of an apology. And it’s not unusual for a president to want to set a different tone to a predecessor, especially if they’re from a different party. George W. Bush did this when he came to office and promised no more nation-building in an effort to set himself apart from Bill Clinton.

At the most Obama has said that his predecessor made mistakes. This isn’t an opinion that’s outside the mainstream. Many Americans, and people from around the world would agree that President Bush made major mistakes, such as invading Iraq. Speeches such as the famous one in Cairo in 2009 weren’t about apologizing for America, they were to signal that under Obama America was going to be different. This was absolutely necessary. Under Bush the world’s opinion of America dropped precipitously. America needs the support of people overseas if it needs to achieve its objectives. For instance, Obama has been more successful than Bush in gaining international support for sanctions on Iran. Russia, India and EU members have been more supportive on sanctions than they were under Bush. Part of this is because Obama is more popular than Bush was in those countries (especially in Europe), which makes it easier for their governments to go along with America.

So why do Republicans keep using the ‘apology’ line?  It’s part of a comprehensive effort to paint Obama as an anti-American radical who is ashamed of his country. While these arguments may be effective with the conservative base of the Republican Party, it’s a pretty ridiculous idea.

Republicans also don’t have a lot to work with when it comes to attacking the President’s foreign policy, an area where the GOP has historically had an advantage over Democrats. Obama’s ongoing withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan have broad popular support. With Iraq the Status of Forces Agreement that paved the way for withdraw was signed by his predecessor, Obama was just carrying it out. In other areas he has also been remarkably consistent with Bush, much to the chagrin of his liberal supporters. On counter-terrorism Obama has continued Bush’s policies, such as indefinite detention. On the use of drone strikes he has actually been more aggressive than Bush. He has greatly expanded them in Pakistan, and even signed off on a successful strike against an American citizen who had become a radical cleric in Yemen.

With Iran, Obama has been more aggressive in trying to prevent the Islamic state from becoming a nuclear power. He has worked with allies to impose increasingly stringent sanctions on Iranian oil and the economy. Despite hiccups in the relationship with Israel, intelligence cooperation between the two countries has never been greater, and the US keeps supplying Israel with more impressive weaponry and technology (including possibly the Stuxnet virus). Despite the rhetoric, there is actually little difference between Romney and Obama on the Iranian issue.

Mitt Romney needs to come up with more effective attacks on Obama’s foreign policy. Thus far they have been disingenuous, and are unlikely to have much sway over independent voters Romney will need to attract in the general election.

Equality In The US Army: Santorum Has It All Wrong

One wonders if Mr. Santorum is actively inhibiting this natural instinct to protect women when he is formulating his stances on policies regarding our reproductive health.

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In the wake of the Pentagon’s announcement of a loosening of restrictions for female service-members last week, we were treated to Rick Santorum’s considered opinions on these matters.  Last week CNN asked him about his support for measures that might eventually allow women to serve in all combat positions. It wasn’t surprising that he opposed the idea, voicing his reticence to John King.

I do have concerns about women in front-line combat, I think that could be a very compromising situation, where people naturally may do things that may not be in the interest of the mission, because of other types of emotions that are involved. It already happens, of course, with the camaraderie of men in combat, but I think it would be even more unique if women were in combat, and I think that’s probably not in the best interest of men, women or the mission”

He called this behavior the “natural instinct to protect someone that’s a female.”  One wonders if Mr. Santorum is actively inhibiting this natural instinct to protect women when he is formulating his stances on policies regarding our reproductive health.

Santorum is arguing that when women are present on the battlefield it activates a male urge to engage in risky behavior in order protect them. This argument is a sneaky ploy; it’s the “it’s not about the women, it’s about the men” claim. At least, that’s what it is superficially. This argument side-steps trying to respond to the incredibly convincing evidence that women have proven their battlefield mettle repeatedly and instead goes for an assertion about male nature and military culture that embeds itself in social assumptions about gender not necessarily factual evidence.

Rick Santorum’s distaste for a mixing of the genders in combat is part of the broader “unit cohesion” argument, which has been similarly leveraged against the open service of lesbians and gays in the military. This is the sister argument to the original “men’s emotions will get the better of them” ploy. It says that the presence of women will serve as a distraction and weaken in the unit’s ability to carry out it’s mission and to function effectively as a whole. This argument is also a fear argument: the fear that women will destroy the sanctity of the masculine environment; that they will endanger their comrades perhaps by being overcome by their female emotions in a time of high stress. It is the presumption that some things are for men alone and that, for reasons that range from cultural to physical, women are simply incompatible with real combat. It is really a challenge to the idea of femininity on the battlefield.

Do women really make the battlefield more dangerous? Former Army Sergeant Kayla Williams, when interviewed on NPR early this week, said “I never saw that happen while I was deployed when we were in dangerous situations”.

Empirical evidence to support this idea of women posing threat to cohesiveness, as Megan Mackenzie has pointed out at the Duck of Minerva blog, is few and far between. A 1997 RAND study cited by Mackenzie found female inclusion to have little effect on unit effectiveness, readiness or morale. This body of research, and recent experience with mixed-gender units, has not seen the kind of unit cohesion breakdown that so many predict, and there are even reports that mixed units can be more effective.

There is one piece of evidence brought up frequently by detractors as proof that women and men cannot be mixed in combat for the reason that Santorum gives, that natural protection instinct. I’ve often seen people citing Israel as a model, saying that the Israeli Defense Force’s stance on gender integration was informed by knowledge of heightened male aggression and risk-taking in the face of an endangered woman. This is an interesting piece of evidence to consider, first because the Israeli army is highly integrated, preventing women from serving in only 12 percent of service positions and showing successes with mixed units, not to mention that it also drafts women. The IDF has operated like this since legislation in 2000 which followed a mid-1990s discrimination suit. It’s also interesting because this claim is never accompanied by a link to a broader report or study, yet remains considered to be unassailable fact.

A little research comes up with nothing on this front except for a 1996 book by a Lt. Col. Dave Grossman titled On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society. In Chapter 4, he writes that:

“The Israelis have consistently refused to put women in combat since their experiences in 1948. I have been told by several Israeli officers that this is because in 1948 they experienced recurring incidences of uncontrolled violence among male Israeli soldiers who had had their female combatants killed and injured in combat, and because the Arabs were extremely reluctant to surrender to women.”

This support is shaky at best, referencing something much more casual and unscientific than an official report, and based on the military experiences of 64 years ago. After finding this, I consider it safe to largely dismiss the claim in the face of other more recent and relevant experiences, like those of Kayla Williams, and the contrary findings of actual studies.

Rick Santorum’s argument sounds convincing at first, and has won him countless nods of agreement. Rhetorically attractive as it may be, the argument is specious and remains centered more on cultural misconceptions of both gender and of the military than it does solid fact or researched evidence.